Lawn care can be a lucrative business. UK homeowners like their grass green and healthy, so professional lawn maintenance services are always in high demand.
If you're thinking of entering the lawn care industry, you may be tempted to purchase a franchise in order to get the ball rolling as quickly as possible. But the franchise route is rarely the best option; setting up your own lawn care business from scratch may sound like an intimidating prospect, but the results are likely to be preferable in the long run.
How lawn care franchises work
Lawn care franchise opportunities involve paying money to an established lawn company in return for the right to use their brand name and carry out work within a specific region.
Most franchisors also provide their franchisees with training, equipment and advice to help them run their business and live up to the company's established reputation.
How much do lawn care franchises cost?
Purchasing a lawn care franchise usually costs several thousand pounds.
In most cases, the franchisee must also pay royalties to the franchisor (typically 5 to 10% of gross sales) for the duration of their relationship.
Why do so many lawn care companies offer franchise opportunities?
Franchising is a cheap and easy way for businesses to expand, and the risk largely rests with the franchisee rather than with the company itself.
Many people choose to purchase a lawn care franchise rather than starting a new business because this enables them to use a brand name that people are already familiar with. Being part of a larger franchise can feel safe and reassuring - franchisors often promote their regional representatives and offer a certain amount of support when it's needed.
The downside of lawn care franchises
Unfortunately, the franchise industry is largely self-regulated, with no independent body really monitoring the activities of lawn care franchises.
There are some very good lawn care franchises - but there are also some very poor franchises that cost a lot to purchase and don't come with sufficient help and assistance, resulting in franchisees who struggle to make a profit.
And that's not all. As we mentioned before, being part of a franchise means losing a percentage of every sale you make - plus you will be limited in terms of how you can promote yourself and what services you can actually offer.
Disadvantages of purchasing a franchise
- The franchisee usually shoulders more risk than the franchisor
- The franchisor receives a royalty on all sales (regardless of whether the franchisee is making a profit!)
- Some lawn care franchises cost upwards of £25k, far exceeding the total value of the materials, equipment, training and marketing resources provided
- Franchisors group postcodes into distinct business areas, and franchisees are generally restricted to their own business area (sometimes there is an option to expand by purchasing more postcodes, but this costs extra)
- Each time you renew your agreement with the franchisor, they have the opportunity to add new clauses - and you will either have to accept them or lose your right to continue operating
- Growth targets and other business goals may be set for you
- Pricing strategies tend to focus on sales volume (i.e. lots of sales at low margins), often at the expense of the franchisee's profitability - high customer numbers result in high operating costs, cutting into your profits
- The franchisor may require you to purchase equipment that is not strictly necessary
- Your choice of products and materials may be restricted by the franchisor
- You may be expected to invest in new vehicles, software, uniforms, and so on when the franchisor says so - even if you feel that your business doesn't need them
- The franchisor may insist on approving the people and businesses you work with
- Franchise agreements can be difficult to escape - you may not be able to sell your business unless you find someone else who will accept the franchisor's terms and conditions (and if you do manage to sell your business, some franchisors will even expect some of the proceeds!)
- Many franchisors insist on full-time commitment from their franchisees
So what's the alternative?
Building your own business from the ground up is hard work, but ultimately this is the better choice because it means your company is entirely your own.
Going it alone gives you total control over your business, with the freedom to choose your own hours, get creative with your marketing, and offer specialised services that your competitors don't. And because you're not tied to a franchise, you'll get to keep every penny of your profits.
Lawn care training and business support from Lawn & Weed Expert
Here at Lawn & Weed Expert, we offer lawn care training courses to help you enter the lawn maintenance industry. We will teach you everything a lawn care professional needs to know, and we'll even help you to source the equipment you'll be using in your new job.
Furthermore, once your lawn care company is up and running, we will continue to provide ongoing support and advice to make sure your business runs smoothly. And unlike a lawn care franchise, we won't ask you to pay us any royalties in return.
If you're still torn, we hope that this testimonial from one of our trainees will help you to make up your mind:
"I had been investigating the idea of buying a lawn care franchise for some time. However, I baulked at the large initial outlay and especially the ongoing percentage payment, which is taken out before any profits are made.
"I then found Lawn and Weed Expert's website and was immediately interested in their one-off payment training package.
"I went down to meet Rob and had an initial chat about the business. I was impressed with his openness and obvious experience in lawn care.
"I began my training in February, fitting it in with my existing gardening business. I found the training to be excellent, covering all aspects of the business, lawn treatments, sourcing of materials and equipment, office and computer training, marketing...everything I needed to know. Rob and his staff were friendly, instructive and helpful throughout. I left knowing I could run a lawn care business from day one.
"I have no ongoing fees to pay or geographical restrictions on where I can work, and I know that Rob and Dave are only a phone call away if I have any queries.
"I thoroughly recommend Lawn and Weed Expert to anyone thinking of going into lawn care."
- Ian, East England
If you're interesting in starting your own lawn business, please get in touch with Lawn & Weed Expert to learn more about our lawn care training packages. We'll be more than happy to provide a price list and answer any questions you might have.
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